It can be daunting replacing a coaching legend.
Jason Harvey finds himself in that very position at Husson College in Bangor.
The Bucksport native, who served last spring as the Eagles’ interim head baseball coach after veteran coach John Winkin suffered a stroke, has been named to the position on a permanent basis, Husson athletic director Gabby Price announced Monday.
“It’s a big relief,” Harvey said. “I can kind of sit back and enjoy it now, try to get the program back to the level that we want it to be.”
Harvey has high regard for his predecessor and mentor, who was stricken December 10 while taking his daily walk.
“It’s a tough thing to do with coach Winkin’s status, his high profile as a coach,” Harvey admitted. “I think I’ve got a lot of information and skills to give to the players and I’m looking forward to it.”
The 87-year-old Winkin, who continues to undergo rehabilitative therapy at Lakewood Continuing Care Center in Waterville, is pleased with Harvey’s promotion.
“I was very agreeable to that,” Winkin said Monday. “I think it was very good for Husson to take care of that as soon as possible. Life has to move on, but I’m here to help them.”
Harvey, 24, who serves as Husson’s assistant director of admissions, appreciates having Winkin’s blessing.
“I’m happy that he’s behind me 100 percent,” Harvey said.
Winkin, whose speech has been affected and who has some paralysis on his right side, remains in the Husson lineup. He has been retained as a Husson Fellow and has been named an assistant baseball coach.
“No one knows baseball strategy, how to recruit and develop athletes, and how to instill the will to win, as well as coach Winkin,” Harvey said. “I wouldn’t be at Husson but for John Winkin. I look forward to having his wisdom and experience during spring training and our season openers.”
A humble Winkin hopes he is able to contribute to Husson in some capacity in the future.
“I’d love to be in the game, but I don’t want to cheat the kids and I don’t want to cheat Husson,” Winkin said. “I’ll help Jason when I can, if I can.”
Winkin expressed his gratitude to Husson President Bill Beardsley, Price and Harvey for their continued support and encouragement.
“That’s what’s nice about it, the fact that they want to have me around,” he added. “I just want to make myself available. When I’m ready, watch out!”
Husson awards the title of “Husson Fellow” to individuals who bring exceptional talents in a special field. Winkin was the first person to be accorded such an honor by the college.
“He is a good friend and mentor for us all, students, faculty and staff alike,” Beardsley said in a release.
Harvey’s youthful Husson ballclub had a solid 2008 season. The Eagles posted a 16-23 record (5-5 in the North Atlantic Conference) and finished as the league runners-up behind Castleton State (Vt.).
“We had a good year,” Harvey said. “It was kind of a learning curve for the players and myself.”
Assistant coaches Jason Folsom and Aaron Brideau also serve on Harvey’s staff.
Harvey was a three-sport standout at Husson, where he played basketball, baseball and golf. Prior to Husson, he played one season of baseball at the University of Maine after a stellar athletic career at Bucksport High School.